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  • Val T.

Rochester volleyball ‘can’t finish’ in season-opening loss to Plymouth

Lady Zs led 20-15 in Set 1, had two set points in Set 2; Lett suffers apparent knee injury


Sports Editor, RTC

Sophia Kouskousakis

It wasn’t though the Rochester volleyball team came close to winning a set against visiting Plymouth in their season opener at the RHS gym Saturday.

It was that they came close to winning two sets.

From promise to jitters to despair to pain, the Lady Zs experienced the gamut in a 25-20, 27-25, 25-8 loss against the Lady Pilgrims.

Both coaches were making their coaching debuts: New Lady Z coach Laneia Strasser is a 2002 Rochester grad, and new Plymouth coach Shauna (Ellinger) Fagan is a 2013 Rochester grad.

Rochester led 20-15 in the first set before Plymouth closed on a 10-0 run. Rochester had two set points and a 24-22 lead in the second set before Plymouth closed on a 5-1 run.

The third set was more of a rout as Plymouth had a pair of eight-point runs in building a 22-6 lead.

“We just can’t finish,” Strasser said. “We’re having mental errors. I say all the time that we have to start with our tempo, play smart volleyball and know where we’re going with the ball, and we didn’t do that. We didn’t finish one set. And that’s something to me, you’ve got to be able to put it all together and finish strong.”

Keyton Doran is the team’s lone senior. One freshman, setter Aubrey Wilson, started, and two others, Sophia Kouskousakis and Brailyn Hunter, saw playing time. Sophomore Ella Hake, who was also making her varsity debut, started in the front row.

Strasser said the team was vulnerable to Plymouth’s tipping.

“It’s going to take time,” Strasser said. “It’s an experience thing too. A lot of it will take the girls picking out how to read that tip and to just react quicker.”

The pain occurred late in the third set when junior Lillee Lett had to be helped off the floor with an apparent right knee injury.

“Her kneecap slipped out of place,” Strasser said, adding that she hoped Lett would be able to practice on Monday after a weekend of treatment.

Two Bolinger aces helped Rochester to a 9-5 lead in the first set and force Fagan to call timeout. A Hake hill and a Darah Strasser service winner helped open the lead to 16-9 and force Fagan to call her second timeout.

Plymouth got within 16-14 before a Howdeshell dump and a Lett kill opened the lead back to 20-15. But Plymouth’s closing run included four Hailey Busse aces and Rochester being called for a rotation error when a substitute lined up in the wrong position.

Rochester squandered their first set point in the second set on a service error and their second on a kill error. After a kill error gave Plymouth a 25-24 lead, Darah Strasser’s kill crawled over the net to tie it at 25.

But a Marley Christy kill and a Natalie Sheely ace closed it out.

Fagan said she “100 percent” developed her love for volleyball at the RHS gym. She said that former Rochester coaches Katie Felke and Erin Cashen were influential to her wanting to become a coach.

“It was something,” Fagan said. “This is home. My name’s on a ceiling tile out there. You know, I graduated from here. So it’s a bittersweet moment coming home and then coaching against my alma mater, but I love this gym, and I love the energy that my girls brought to the gym today.”

Plymouth def. Rochester, 25-20, 27-25, 25-8

Rochester stats

Ella Hake – 2 kills, 2 digs; Darah Strasser – 2 kills, 5 digs, 1 assist, 3 serves received; Aubrey Wilson – 1 kill, 2 aces, 9 digs, 10 assists, 11 serves received; Lillee Lett – 2 kills, 1 ace, 9 digs, 8 serves received; Audrey Bolinger – 3 kills, 2 aces, 2 digs; Sophia Kouskousakis – 3 kills, 7 serves received; Mia Howdeshell – 1 kill, 1 ace, 2 digs, 2 assists; Rylee Clevenger – 1 ace, 12 digs, 20 serves received; Keyton Doran – 2 digs; Brailyn Hunter – 1 serve received

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